Syracuse Kicks Off Fall With Local Foes
by Stephen Bailey | LaxMagazine.com
Syracuse hosted its annual fallball Cuse Play Day event on Sunday, inviting Colgate, Cornell, Albany, Niagara, Canisuis and Cortland to the Manley Complex for an afternoon of 25-minute, running clock games.
Syracuse shuffled four midfield lines through the day, as well as numerous attacks as head coach Gary Gait is still mixing and matching players, searching for team chemistry.
"We're very deep in the midfield," Gait said. "We have three really good lines in the midfield, some young players in the fourth line that are good, so we're just looking to improve, find the chemistry.
"We're mixing them up, we've been mixing different players together all fall. We're looking to come up with a couple really good lines for spring."
The Orange thrashed Colgate, 12-0 unofficially, in its first game as senior Alyssa Murray fed and scored, leading the high-powered SU offense alongside sophomore Kayla Treanor.
Midway through the game, the duo led a 4-0 jaunt that spanned less than two minutes. First, Murray found a cutting Katie Webster from the baseline. Then Treanor beat a Colgate defender on a hesitation move from the top of the circle. Murray slung a pinpoint pass to Devin Collins on the left doorstep and then found Kailah Kempney moments later to finish the stretch.
"She was a leader last year, not a captain, but a leader," Gait said. "(She) controls our offense. Obviously that's what we look for. We need her to step up, make sure everyone's calm, settled so we can execute our offense."
Syracuse defeated Albany, 7-2 unofficially, in its second game on Sunday. Webster scored two early goals – one on a hesitation move, the other on a split-dodge – and finished with a hat trick.
And the Orange edged Albany, 6-1 unofficially, in its third game before the midway break in the event.
Murray said Syracuse shuffled in four additional attacks in that game.
"I think fallball is a good opportunity to give some other girls a shot and see who plays well together," Muray said.
In addition to the continued offensive success, goalkeeper Kelsey Richardson made a particularly strong save on a shot from Albany's Kotah Savitcheff.
Savitcheff drove in from the left side and tried to put the ball past Richardson's left, but she swung her stick up and deflected the attempt out of bounds.
Gait looks to replace Block twins
Becca Block wasn't just the fastest players on the Syracuse team the last four years, she was probably one of the fastest in the country.
Becca and twin sister Linley Block were staples of the Orange defense before graduating last year. Now Gait is searching for players to fill that void.
"Nobody's going to run by the whole entire team, so that clear is gone," Gait said jokingly, "but that's okay. We've been working on breakout patterns, moving the ball, running by one (defender) and then passing the ball."
Gait said the staples of the SU defense are Natalie Glanell, Mallory Vehar, Casey Mock and Caroline Webster. Webster, a sophomore and the younger sister of Katie Webster, has stood out more than anyone else this fall, Murray said.
"The defense as a whole is doing a great job making up for that while also filling in the spots," Murray said. "I think Caroline is really one of those people, along with Mallory Vehar, who really stepped into their shoes and is just playing incredible for having little experience and being so young."
D-III Cortland enjoys playing against tough competition
Kathy Taylor and her Cortland team came up to Syracuse for the second time in three seasons to take on some Division-I opponents. The D-III Red Dragons traveled to Hofstra for a similar fallball event last season.
"It's very exciting for our program," head coach Kathy Taylor said. "During the season we don't have the opportunity to play Division-I schools. For us and for our athletes to be able to come up here and compete against them and see the speed of the game, and the level of the game, and actually be able to hold our own with many of them is exciting for our program."
Taylor said shot speed, passing quickness and especially footwork are the biggest differences she sees in the D-I competition Cortland faces each season. She also said the more physical opponents help toughen up her team.
"The speed and skill, I think that we have some kids that have that, but they just have a few more," Taylor said. "They have more kids that have that."